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Tencer's Blog: Comeback Kids

Dan Tencer takes a look the Oilers' recent efforts as their three-game road trip continues

Friday, 29.10.2010 / 12:00 PM / Blogs
By Dan Tencer
Taylor Hall celebrates his first career NHL goal Thursday night in Columbus. (Getty Images)
The answer to the trivia question has finally made itself clear: October 28, 2010 in Columbus against Steve Mason. Taylor Hall's first NHL goal.

I, like every other fan in Oil Country, was delighted to see Hall finally get the monkey off his back. Quite frankly, I was feeling some of the same relief that Taylor was. I didn't want him to come back from the road trip nine games into his NHL career and have to sit down next to him again and ask another repetitive question about his quest for Goal One. As he said last night, it certainly wasn't the prettiest goal he ever scored, but it's his first on an NHL scoresheet and it ought to relieve a lot of pressure off the kid's back.

Did you notice the reaction of his teammates on the ice and on the bench? Absolute and genuine elation. He's come in with a humble attitude, busting his tail as hard as anyone else on the squad and doing his best to fit in as one of the guys despite the fact that it's his face on the billboards.

When I say he's humble, by the way, I don't mean to imply that he isn't confident. He is. Supremely confident, in fact. Bob Stauffer has recently brought up a very astute point, echoed yesterday by Hall's former OHL coach Bob Boughner, that Joe Thornton only scored three goals and seven points in his rookie season in Boston. Given that Jumbo Joe will hit the 1,000 point plateau this season, that's a pretty obvious indication that you shouldn't judge a player by his first season, let alone his first few games.

Well, when Stauffer shared this nugget of perspective with Hall, Taylor's first comment back (with a bit of a chuckle) was: "I'm going to score more than three goals this year."

COMEBACK KIDS

While the Oilers have showed some incredible resolve in their past two games with solid come-from-behind efforts, they're still in search of a win on this six-game slide. (Getty Images)
I don't think it's any secret that the Oilers are dying to actually throw one up in the "W" column here pretty shortly, given how much losing can grate on a competitive athlete. But, as far as the big picture is concerned, there have been some pretty fantastic positive signs to take away from the last two games.

With two consecutive shootout losses that required 3rd period comebacks to engineer the loser point, it has been the younger players leading the charge to make it happen. Eberle with a goal late in period two in Calgary, Paajarvi with an early 3rd period goal that same night and Hall with his marker midway through the third last night in Columbus.

That's not even to mention the fact that Shawn Horcoff has been the recipient of umpteen spectacular scoring chances as a result of plays made by the rookies, or that Jordan Eberle is tied for the league lead in shorthanded goals (2) while teaming up with Horcoff on the first unit PK squad. How about Taylor Hall with a two-point night last night while barely seeing any time on the powerplay?

Oh, and that Dubnyk kid who only has 20 games of NHL experience? Yeah, he was OK last night.

Yes, it's a six-game losing streak. Yes, the team is in 15th place. But, as I wrote before the season, success isn't going to be determined by wins or losses this year. The barometer will be the development and emergence of the team's future stars. So far, so good.

SOURAY INJURED AGAIN

Sheldon Souray
Just under a week ago, Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray (on loan to the Hershey Bears in the AHL) broke his right hand in a fight with veteran tough guy Matt Clackson. Bad news? Hardly.

For starters, this is unlikely to affect any immediate trade action involving Souray. That's because there isn't any. The most likely scenario, and the one likely to allow the Oilers to maximize return vs. money spent, is to have Sheldon play the entire season in the AHL and not risk losing him on re-entry waivers.

Secondly, the publicity surrounding the broken hand might actually increase his trade value. I'm not sure if this is even possible, as I'm pretty sure his trade value has remained reasonably static throughout this whole process, given that most managers seems pretty familiar with Souray's pro's and con's. However, if you go to HockeyFights.com and type in "Matt Clackson", you'll quickly figure out that this is one tough hombre. Souray squared up and threw down with a legit heavyweight, which is a pretty monumental display of professionalism in a situation where he could just show up and collect his paycheque.
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